At its Tuesday, May 5 meeting, Wilmington’s City Council extended its state of emergency order until Friday, May 8 at 5 PM. At that time, Phase 1 of Governor Cooper’s reopening plan will take effect.
Under the new statewide guidelines, there will still be a 10-person limit on gatherings. Salons, theaters, gyms and playgrounds will still be closed. Indoor religious services, restaurant dine-in, and care center visitation will still be banned -- while face masks, working from home, and keeping a six-foot distance from others, continue to be encouraged.
So, what will be different? The biggest change is that a wider range of retail stores -- including book stores and clothing stores -- will be allowed to open. Stores must limit shoppers to 50% of capacity, and maintain sanitary and social distancing protocols.
The Phase 1 reopening is set to last for at least two weeks. If the state meets its goals of reducing or leveling the number of COVID-19 cases, Phase 2 could be implemented -- which would allow limited dine-in services, bars, salons, and gyms to reopen.
Wilmington officials haven’t yet announced if the city’s additional restrictions, which are stricter than the state’s, will continue past Friday. Those provisions include the temporary closure of hotels and short term rentals.
In other business at Tuesday's meeting, city council heard a preliminary presentation of next year’s budget, with the caution that a number of uncertainties still lie ahead.